Reverend Vere Foster 1697 – 1756

Vere Foster was born in 1697 in Gloucester, according to Nichols, he was the son of a clergyman. Although Humphrey Perkins is considered the founder of the school in Barrow Vere Foster should be considered as the man who brought it into existence, he was vicar of Barrow (1730 – 1756).

Vere Foster attended a private school at Ditton in Buckinghamshire. He left this school in 1713 to be admitted, as a pensioner, to St John's College, Cambridge. Although he gained his degree in 1719 he stayed on in Cambridge and decided to take Holy Orders when he was over 30 years old.

He succeeded to a valuable college benefice in 1728 after receiving deacon's orders in 1727, followed by priest's orders in 1728. He stayed in Cambridge of ranother 2 years and was awarded his Bachelor of Divinity in 1730. This degree was considered a step towards gaining a valuable benefice in the future. In that year the incumbent vicar at Barrow upon Soar died and Vere Foster's college fellowship lead to him being offered the living at Barrow, a valuable parish, where he could stay for the rest of his life.

When he arrived at Barrow the setting up of the school here was at a crucial stage and he ensured that the trustees could take possession of Humphrey's estate. He then had six months in which to appoint a schoolmaster, according to the conditions of the estate. He remembered a young "sizar" whom he knew from his days at Cambridge and offered the position to him, his name was the reverend John Oliver.

Vere Foster had to guide to trustees to ensure the terms of Humphrey's will were followed in that land was purchased and a builder appointed in order for a school to be built in the village. The schoolhouse was built in the centre of the village, where the Conservative Club is currently situated, in fact parts of this building are the original school building. It cost £160 and Vere Foster, paid the money, to the builder, in three instalments.

The school opened to pupils in 1735 but there were soon problems with the Reverend Oliver and the way he taught. He insisted that his pupils were taught in Latin much to the displeasure of the parents children who attended. After a dispute which involved the trustees and parents and a refusal by Oliver to teach in English the Reverend Oliver was dismissed, his successor was Vere Foster himself.

Vere Foster was keen to take up this appointment as it would bring him extra income. He only had the living at Barrow and had a curate to help him who would have been paid a salary by the vicar. Vere Foster could also see that not having a schoolmaster would be a threat to the school and might lead to its closure.

Having a curate meant that Vere Foster could take up the duties of school master immediately and he carried on this position for 20 years. It's also at this time that the school came to be called a Grammar School according to the document that had to be drawn up to legalise the appointment of the vicar as schoolmaster as he was also a trustee of the school.

Unfortunately, for the last 15 years of his life Vere Foster did not enjoy good health. He lived at the vicarage where his sister, Jane, kept house for him. There are no descriptions about the nature of his ailments but he did become burdened with debts. It appears that he was considered popular by his parishioners and he obviously cared about them as he left money to six poor families in his will. He also planned his own funeral but it appears that these wishes were not carried out as a recent history of the church records, "In one of the old churchyard paths is buried...the Rev Vere Foster." He did request that there should be no memorial stone.

However the Reverend Vere Foster did not need any memorial stone to remind the villagers of his work: Humphrey Perkins School is a fitting memorial of him. It was his efforts and enthusiasm that money for the building of the schoolhouse was raised.

He also stepped in to tide the school over in a crisis. Although Humphrey Perkins made it possible for a school to be built in Barrow, it was Vere Foster who brought the school into being and maintained it's existence. Without him the policy of establishing a free school in Barrow would have foundered.

Information about Vere Foster taken from the text of "The History of Humphrey Perkins School" by Bernard Elliott


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Last Updated. 10-January-2016 By admin